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  • Writer's pictureJerad Cotten

Trophy Mule Deer could very well be the most highly sought after trophy in the west.

Are Trophy Mule Deer the most highly sought after trophy in the west?

This past week as I talked with clients about bidding on Mule Deer tags at the Hunt Expo in Salt Lake City it came to me as I watched the price of tags climb far above any record price that they have ever gone for. That trophy mule deer hunting may have just surpassed Bighorn Sheep as the most highly sought after trophy in the west. Prices up to $750k and $500k for a single mule deer tag, I was blown away as were my clients who realized the game had just changed and that they weren't in the balk park to play with the bidders who had taken these tags to new heights.

What does this mean for ranchers with a healthy mule deer population?

As a ranch broker and an outfitter here in Colorado I talk with many ranchers who have a great population of quality mule deer on their ranches. Some know what they have and others I have helped them understand and utilize programs like the Land Owner Voucher system to help them bring in some extra cash for the ranch. While watching the auction this last weekend. I know that the quality of mule deer in many of the states that were selling these premium tags has declined over the past 10 years to the point that sportsmen in Colorado are killing just as big of deer on ranches that have bought into managing the ranch and its habitat to maximize trophy mule deer potential. I have some ranchers sitting on a gold mine in their mule deer herd. What this tells me is that the demand for trophy mule deer is there and if people are willing to spend millions on tags. They will spend millions on property to have their own controlled mule deer population. I will be focusing some marketing towards mule deer ranches and mule deer hunting properties.

What do I look for in a mule deer hunting ranch?

I often get asked what to look for in buying a mule deer hunting property. My response is this, not everyone can afford a million dollar ranch to hunt deer on buy what you can afford but let me help you do some homework first. There are many strategic properties that grow or hold big deer year after year that are small acreage properties some as small as 40 acres. "Location, location, location." Just like anything location is key. You can have 10,000 acres in the wrong location and you will be unhappy with the amount and quality of mule deer you see. Most mule deer migrate in Colorado so unless you have a special piece of property that has summer and winter range on it your deer will leave your property at some point. In a nut shell you will want to find property that will hold mule deer through the time period that they will be hunted. Not just for your hunting success but as you implement strategic harvest you will be protecting that younger age class from being harvested. Mule deer are creatures of habit and many will come back to the same rut areas and same winter range each year. If you are providing safety and quality habitat you will begin to see your efforts pay off over time. I could write a book on mule deer management and habitat management. If you are in the hunt for a mule deer hunting ranch or property please reach out to me and we can begin the search. There are several quality ranches on the market in Colorado.


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